The days slip away as I cook meals, straighten the house, grocery shop, care for family and pets, run errands, go to church, talk on the phone, answer texts and emails, etc. I haven’t even mentioned conferences, weddings, showers, graduations, birthday parties, and the list goes on. Distractions to keep me from writing surround me. The clock keeps ticking and another week flies by.
Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not complaining. I love caring for my family and I love my life. I wouldn’t want to change it for anything in the world. But I also believe I can make time for the things I really desire to do. I don’t need to give up my aspirations when it’s possible to enjoy both. It’s a matter of managing my time.
I’ll be honest with you. I’m a great procrastinator. I’ve learned to be very good at it over the course of my life. As a teenager, my mother would ask me to clean my bedroom. What she meant was, she wanted me to make my bed, dust, vacuum, and put away any clothes lying around. What I ended up doing instead was, cleaning my desk drawer out and going through old letters, reading them, and deciding which to keep and which to throw away. Then I made the bed and put away my clothes. But that made me aware of how messy my other drawers had gotten, so I would refold all my clothes and stack them nicely in each drawer. Finally, I would get to dusting and vacuuming. By the time I finished cleaning my room, my mother had cleaned the entire house, cooked and baked, and worked on laundry, too! Why, she probably even washed the windows, mowed the lawn, and cleaned the garage! Thankfully, I’ve grown up since then and can clean my whole house in a day, plus cook a meal, and even work on laundry. But the temptation to procrastinate is my constant companion. So how can a procrastinator manage time? Here are some things that are working for me:
- Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise. It’s an old saying, but loaded with wisdom. If I go to bed early enough, I wake up early, which allows me to get things done so I have more time for writing.
- Most days are filled with activity and I have to snatch time wherever I can find it. If dinner has to cook for thirty minutes or an hour, that’s a good time to write. Thirty minutes here and thirty minutes there. I write when I can.
- Sometimes in the writing process, it’s absolutely necessary to devote a huge chunk of time if you want to make some fast progress. On those days, and I admit they are few and far between, I will stay in my lounging pants and tell my family I’m hiding in my room to write. And that’s exactly what I do. They know they can call me if there’s a fire, but they also understand I need some uninterrupted time alone. It’s so easy for those around you to invade your workspace if you are at the dining room table or sitting on your recliner. But if you hide in your bedroom and close the door, it may cause them to think before they interrupt your thought process. As I said already, those days are few and far between, but this method works well when necessary.
- The final thing that has helped me with writing for hours at a time is a writer’s hideaway. For example, my husband and I rented a vintage studio apartment in a small obscure town only a couple hours from our home. We only stayed a couple of nights, but it was for the express purpose of using this as a writer’s retreat. Its vintage appearance was a great inspiration for a historical fiction writer like me. Its seclusion allowed for a feeling of isolation conducive for creative thought processing. My husband and I would take long walks to talk, explored artists’ galleries, and observed the people around us, then returned to our quaint and peaceful room. With a warm, gentle breeze blowing through the cranked-open vertical windows and the sounds of birds in the trees, I placed my fingers on the computer keyboard and allowed inspiration to carry me away — uninterrupted — in my writer’s hideaway.
If you’re reading this blog post, you are either a writer or perhaps your creativity is in a different direction. Whatever it is, don’t allow the busyness of life to keep you from your dream. You certainly must not give up the people who are counting on you and the things you are responsible for, but I’m certain there are activities you can set aside to pursue your goal. How much of your time is spent on Facebook, TV, searching the internet, talking on the phone, and so on? Be completely honest with yourself. Is there something useless or unnecessary that is robbing you of valuable time that could be spent on learning something new to help you obtain your dream? I love the quote by Reinhold Niebuhr.
“God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”